Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Questions Every Allergy Parent Gets Asked



If you are an allergy parent you find yourself explaining about the allergies at every turn.  You feel like you have a very limited vocabulary.  Your most common phrases are "What's in that?" "Don't eat that!" "We can't have that." "We have food allergies."  You recite these over and over and they become your mantras.  You can recite your list of allergens in your sleep.

And as you explain about the allergies you find yourself being asked the same questions over and over and over again.  You patiently explain and discuss and try to educate.  However, you sometimes find yourself saying some little "snappy comebacks" in your head.  Not that you would ever say them aloud.  But you know you've thought them.....

Will she outgrow her allergies?
You must have me confused with someone else - like God, possibly.  He's the only one that would actually know that answer.  My doctor doesn't even have a clue.

Can she get shots for that?  Is there treatment for her?
If she could, don't you think I would be doing that!?  I mean, if there was a known cure I would be the first one to sign up.  

What happens when she eats that food?
She dies.  Truly.  I don't even want to think about it.

Can she even be in the room with that food?
Do you think that's a good idea?  We don't really have a death wish.

Can she touch that food?
We like to live dangerously and come as close to an allergic reaction as we can without actually ingesting the food.  Why would we touch that food?  Really?  Not smart......

Where did her allergies come from?  Do you have allergies?
Again.  I'm not God.  I have no clue and neither does my doctor.  And no, not a single person in our family has diagnosed food allergies.  Can you say unexpected surprise??

How did you figure out her allergies?
One anaphylactic reaction after another.  No, it wasn't pretty.  Trial and error when the error could be your child's life is not what I would call fun.

What can you eat?
The foods she's not allergic too.
Real food.  Healthy food.  Fresh food.  Food that you should try too.

Don't you miss (insert favorite allergic food here)?
Wouldn't you?  But isn't my daughter's life worth giving up a cheese pizza or a PB&J?

No, no, no.  These thoughts never escape.  But I do think them and I do tire of the questions. 

Do most people know much about food allergies?  No.  Do most people ask in a curious and/or compassionate way.  Yes.  Therefore, I try to educate and respond in kind.

So, here's what I actually say:

Will she outgrow her allergies?
We don't know but we certainly hope she does.  Our doctor did say that her chances are somewhat small because her allergies are so very severe.

Can she get shots for that?  Is there a treatment for her?
No.  At this point she is not a candidate for shots or any type of treatment currently being tested.  Her allergies are too severe as are her reactions.  We hope there are more options in the future.
 
What happens when she eats that food?
She has life threatening food allergies.  So when she eats an allergen she breaks out in hives, experiences swelling, and her throat closes, making it difficult for her to breathe.  She can go into anaphylactic shock.

Can she even be in the room with that food?
While she can be in the room with some of her allergens, we try to practice strict avoidance whenever possible. 

Can she touch that food?
No.  In the past when she's come into contact with an allergen she has broken out in hives and begun having an allergic reaction.  She has contact allergies which means that she can't even come into direct contact with her allergen and remain safe. 

Where did her allergies come from?  Do you have allergies?
We don't know.  No one in our families have allergies.  The cause of food allergies is debatable and is still unknown. 

How did you figure out her allergies?
Unfortunately, through her having allergic reactions as an infant and then through later testing (and later allergic reactions).  It's a very slow and very scary learning process.

What can you eat?
We have lots of choices and we've developed many safe recipes.  We stick to meats and veggies and she can have a few fruits and a few grains.  We do most of our cooking from scratch to keep her safe.

Don't you miss (insert favorite allergic food here)?
Yes.  But the sacrifice of those foods are worth it for our family.  Plus, we sometimes get a date night out to enjoy all of our old favorites (hello, mac and cheese, frozen yogurt, and pizza!).

So, if you're an allergy parent you've probably fielded those questions and more.  And yes, while it is tiring, it is important to help educate those out there who are not familiar with food allergies.  Just think, you're doing a service for all of us.  

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I laughed and totally agree with you. Thanks for letting me know that I am not the only person asked the same questions over and over. Lately, it's been some vodo Doctor can cure my two kids food allergies. They want me to go see him and He has the patient hold vials of the allergy is suppose to cure them. I get tired of it but we are doing everything we can. Thanks for the humor;]

Lexi Henegar said...

You're welcome! I know we all are asked the same questions and give the same answers day after day. I get so tired of it sometimes!

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, it was a good laugh indeed! Being a person with major food allergies I get questions a lot. And I try to answer as many as I can because people sometimes have never dealt with severe food allergies before so they have no idea. Though when you have been asked that question for about the 4th time that day...its hard to stay cool sometimes. =D

Lexi Henegar said...

It is hard to answer the same questions every day. I have to watch that I'm always gracious with people who don't understand food allergies. I'm still working on it! I think it's important to try to educate others though so that's what I tell myself when I answer the same questions over and over.

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